The Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Mr Sampson Itodo has advised the Ghanaian electorate to rigorously engage political parties in the same manner as they do their electoral management bodies.
Mr Itodo explained that political parties were often the causes of the myriad challenges faced in running elections.
“We all must also focus on party development, for political parties to function effectively and go beyond seeking power,” he said.
“As we engage with the electoral commission, let us also engage with the political parties,” he told participants at a roundtable discussion on the topic, “The 2019 Nigerian Presidential and National Assembly Elections: Lessons learned for Ghana and other West African countries.”
It was organised by the Centre for Democratic Governance (CDD-Ghana) in Accra on Wednesday, May 16, 2019.
YIAGA Africa is a non-profit civic hub of change makers committed to the promotion of democratic governance.
“Maybe, what we need to start doing is, perhaps, focus the same kind of attention on the electoral commissions on political parties,” he said.
Mr Itodi described the logistical nightmare involved in running the February 23, 2019 Nigerian election, with 430 million papers needed, 1,558 political vacancies with 23,316 politicians racing for them.
He said the logistical nightmare came with the challenge of dealing with political parties, who went against the rules, compounding the logistical arrangements of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Other challenges he mentioned, included the elite power struggles among politicians, election budget delays, militarisation of the electoral process and waning trust in the process.
For lessons, Mr Itodo was of the view that a direct correlation existed between public trust cost of elections.
He said the lower the levels of integrity, the greater the cost of elections.
A former Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and member of the National Democratic institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) International Observer mission to Nigeria, Mr Peter Mac-Manu, conceded that political parties had to do better in the electioneering processes.
He said Ghana and Nigeria had to learn from each other.
A member of the ECOWAS Observer Mission to Nigeria, Mr Donald Ato Dapatem, said there were similarities and contrasts in how the media in both countries played election roles.
Whereas in Ghana constitutional provisions ensured all parties had fair coverage, the Nigerian media focused only on the two dominant parties.
The Executive Director of GenCED and a member of the NDI/IRI International Observer Mission to Nigeria, Ms Esther Tawiah, said the monetisation of politics excluded vulnerable groups like women.
A member of the CODEO Advisory Board and Mission to Nigeria, Mr John Larvie, said the pasting of names and pictures of eligible voters at the polling units had to be learnt by Ghana as it helped in smooth processes.
For him, the issue of vote buying across Africa could be solved with better transparency.
Another observer of and reporter on the Nigerian elections, Mr Komla Klutse said the total shutdown of all activities on election day, was not right, and called for a change.
The Deputy Executive Director of CDD, Dr Franklin Oduro, said a new mode electoral fraud creeping into the politics of the region as the suppression of votes and urged all to be vigilant.
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